Haverhill, MA

The doctor who tried to prove the existence of souls by experimenting on dying people


Doctor Duncan MacDougallPhoto byWikimedia Commons

Doctor Duncan MacDougall was a physician from Haverhill, Massachusetts who became famous in the early 20th century for doing some controversial experiments. Although he was a man of science, he had a strong personal belief that souls did exist in reality.

To prove his belief in the existence of souls, he decided to experiment on dying people. He thought that a human soul had a physical weight that could be measured once the soul left the body during the moment of death. He played dying patients on a scale and monitored their weight as they passed away.

His experiments were met with heavy criticism from the medical community. Many doctors say his experiments as a violation of the dignity of the patients. They also questioned the scientific validity of the results of his experiments. His methods were also deemed to be unscientific by his critics because the weight loss of a patient can be due to several factors such as the evaporation of sweat and the loss of body fluids.

His experiments were conducted only on a handful of patients and the results were considered to be indecisive. He claimed a recorded weight loss of 0.0462971 pounds in a patient, but he never published his data, and hence the results of his experiments were always questioned by experts.

Despite the criticisms and lack of scientific validity of his experiments, his works gained widespread attention in the media, leading to a lasting impact on the public perception of the soul as a physical entity with weight.

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